More on the Reed College sexual assault debate

Posted by Timothy Mehaffey on Apr 5, 2011 1 comment

After a forum Monday night, Reed College officials say they’re examining the possibility of loosening confidentiality rules.Reed College’s handling of sexual assault cases has sparked a heated debate on campus over the last year. It prompted a student’s resignation, open letters to the community and plenty of coverage and opinion from the Reed student paper, The Quest. 
The problem is described in an Oregonian story from earlier this week: 

Reed uses a highly secretive process based on a student Honor Code and enforced by the student Judicial Board … the college does not investigate allegations of sexual misconduct with a trained investigator. Instead, students act as a fact-finding committee … Students have criticized the process because it forces alleged victims to attend hearings with the accused, sometimes seated at the same table, and allows the accused to preview victim testimony before responding. 

Reed College embroiled in debate about sexual assaults

While the Oregonian has pretty good summary stories about the most recent developments in this ongoing discussion, it’s worth taking a look at the long-running coverage done by student journalists and columnists from The Quest. 
There’s the open letter from resigned Judicial Board member Isabel Manely, in which she writes: 

“I am not an expert on sexual assault, but here are some things I think I do know: I dont think the Judicial Board has sufficient understanding or training regarding sexual assault or PTSD to make truly informed decisions; I dont think the Judicial Board has enough information to judge consent in varying and diverse situations; sexual assault cases potentially place a huge emotional burden on J-Board members, which I can only imagine is more difficult for other case participants; and finally, the Judicial Board Code currently sets out a hearing procedure that, in the instance of a sexual assault case, could be not only unduly stressful but even (re)traumatizing or triggering for the people involved.”

On Sexual Assault and Alcohol Consumption is the title of an op-ed published in the most recent edition. In it, Alex Cherin explores the need for discussion and honesty on the issue, especially when it’s combined with alcohol and drug use. In it, Cherin writes: 

“Truthfully, I dont think many Reedies in our age range are capable of coming to a concrete decision about the subject of alcohol abuse or sexual assault. However, I do think that the size of our school and the potential that our friends can be seriously affected by our decisions warrants us to try. Personally, I dont think trying is just simply a discussion. I think it is a personal change we have to make in regards to our lifestyle and our approach towards the members of our community.”

Here’s a handful of other stories from The Quest: 
Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus
Additional Suggestions for Institutional Improvements from Reed Survivors
An Open Letter from the Ad-hoc Committee on Sexual Assault
A Response to Manleys Open Resignation Letter

Matt Buxton; On twitter: ; And don’t forget to check out the O’s Southeast Portland website.

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